You may have noticed that, all other things being equal, females pay less for car insurance than males. Why is this? Is it fair? Should it be changed? There are a variety of reasons car insurance companies charge lower premiums to female customers however, any individual female drive may pay more than her male counterparts, depending on her driving record.

Car insurance companies calculate premiums based on complex mathematical formulas which take into account a wide variety of factors: age, gender, location, driving history and make and model of vehicle. Each of these factors is compared to a pool of similar applicants for risk status. To further confuse the issue, each company weighs each factor differently, so any individual may get very different quotes on the same coverage from different companies.

But why do women drivers often pay less than males?

Simply speaking, they are considered a lower risk to insure. Car insurance companies base all their pricing decisions on the amount of risk they are taking to provide coverage for an individual, and statistically women have fewer accidents and make fewer claims than men. This does not mean that any individual woman is a better or more careful driver, but that as a group women tend to cost car insurance companies less.

This trend is true for all age groups. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that in 2009, men were responsible for 70 percent of car accidents across the board. There is a great deal of speculation as to why these numbers are so high. No one theory has been “proven,” but consensus of researchers is that men tend to be more aggressive, drive faster, and be less forgiving on the road, which translates into more numerous and more serious accidents.

Another school of thought is that women simply tend to file fewer claims. According to this theory, because women are more likely to get into “fender benders” rather than more serious accidents, they also tend to pay for the damages themselves, rather than rely on insurance companies to fix the problem.

Current Debates about Car Insurance Rates by Gender

Recently, debate has sparked over insurance companies’ practice of charging men higher premiums. In Europe, legislation is in the works which would make it illegal for insurance companies to charge more based on gender. There are calls to enact similar legislation here in the United States. However, this may not be the best plan, according to some experts.

These experts predict that what would happen if the government legislated a policy for disallowing rate differences for males and females is that females would simply pay more for their car insurance; males would not necessarily see a corresponding decrease in their premium prices. This is because the risk factors would not change; insurance companies base everything on risk, so if they were told they could not charge males more, they would simply charge females the same price.

Of course, competition would drive some prices down, especially for big companies. However, this would probably end up hurting the smaller insurers, who could not compete with “giveaway” prices. In the end, smaller insurance companies might end up closing due to their inability to set their own rates based on risk.

Experts also point out that “good” male drivers pay far less than those with speeding tickets, DUIs, and accidents on their records. One way to keep your insurance premiums low, they argue, it is to drive defensively and safely. Taking a defensive driving course can also earn you a discount on your insurance premiums with many companies.

In the end, the argument is not over regarding the “battle of the sexes,” but keeping insurance rates lower overall can be a goal for everyone. If you are interested in saving money on your current premiums, one of the best ways to discover your options is to run a car insurance quote comparison from several companies. By entering your ZIP code above you can easily see what companies in your area will offer in terms of insurance premiums.